How to Get a Business License

how to get a business license

This is the fourth post in our series Start an LLC with Me. In our first post, readers came along as I officially formed an LLC. I then got an EIN number (and shared step-by-step instructions) and opened a business bank account. Next up: getting a business license.

Business licensing is probably the least straightforward of the steps to opening a business. This is because business licensing varies greatly by location. In some jurisdictions or industries, you may not need a business license at all. In others, you may need one at the federal, state, county, and city level.

Federally Regulated Industries

Certain industries are regulated at the federal level, and you’ll need to start there if your business falls into one of those categories.

Categories include:

  • Agriculture
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Aviation
  • Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Maritime transportation
  • Mining and drilling
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Transportation and logistics

For more information on where to start with these federally regulated industries, visit the Small Business Administration site here

Delaware General Business License

If your business is operating in the state of Delaware, you will need a business license from the Division of Revenue.

It’s important to note that operating in Delaware and forming a Delaware entity are not the same. If you have a brick-and-mortar business located in the state of Delaware or the primary location of your business is physically in Delaware, you’ll need a business license in Delaware.

If you formed a Delaware entity but your business is primarily conducted elsewhere, you may not need a Delaware business license but you may need one in the state where your business is located.

If you have determined that you do need a business license from the state of Delaware, you can apply for a One Stop account with the state of Delaware here

County and City Business Licensing

Each of the three counties in Delaware have different business licensing and permitting requirements. Many cities and towns within Delaware do as well.

Luckily the state has a quick page for you to reference for resources for each county and city/town in the state. You can find it here.

Professions and Industries Regulated by the state of Delaware

Beyond a general business license and one at the county and city level, certain industries are also regulated by the state.

These businesses and industries range from restaurants and food services to medical licensing, cosmetologists, attorneys, and more.

You can find a full list of the professions and industries that require additional permitting or licensing here

Internet Sales and Reseller Permits

With much of our commerce happening online these days, it’s easy to see how challenging it is to regulate online businesses. Is the business located where the owner of the website resides? Where the business is located? Where the server that hosts the website is located? Internet sales present unique challenges for states.

At this time, Delaware has not enacted legislation or regulations concerning sales tax for internet based businesses. You can read more about the specifics of online businesses here.

A common question we receive at The Incorporators is, does Delaware require reseller permits? No, the state of Delaware does not require reseller permits.

Business Licensing in Other States

Many states will have business licensing requirements at different levels, just as Delaware does.

If you formed a Delaware entity but your business home is in another state, you’ll need to research what the requirements are there. We’d suggest starting with the SBA website, as they provide many helpful resources for business owners. They also offer free business counseling should you have specific questions. You can find more information here